My taxi driver today was Luke, a genial 40-year old Londoner, who was delighted about the Royal Wedding and wished the young couple nothing but happiness.
Unlike many Britons who seem rather indifferent to the hype surrounding the event, Luke said he was very much in favour of the royal family. When asked whether he minded the fact that his taxes partly paid for them to live in their palaces, he said he didn’t have a problem with that, adding that a lot of his tax-money went to things he didn’t agree with anyway.
As we sat chatting in the taxi on the way back to the editing studios, I sighed with relief as I escaped the scene of what is probably the biggest media event of all time. Behind the beehive of temporary studios and feed-points located just opposite Buckingham Palace lies a sprawling maze of tents, housing hundreds of broadcasters from all over the world, in something vaguely reminiscent of a huge open-air concert. The stars here carry microphones instead of guitars. The audience, made up mainly of foreign tourists, wait patiently outside the gates, for something, anything, to happen. Some have even set up their tents outside Westminster Abbey, where the royal couple will be tying the knot, hoping to get a glimpse of them on the big day.
So what is it that makes this Royal Wedding so attractive? Why have foreign channels, especially those from across the Atlantic, sent hundreds of extra staff to London to cover this event? There’s no single answer to this question. But as Los Angeles-based anchor David Ono told me: after the wars, the bloodshed, the earthquakes and the tsunamis, “the beautiful thing about this media frenzy is the fact that’s it’s all good news, at least so far.” “And the Americans don’t yet suffer from royal fatigue,” added US anchor Deborah Norville. “There was a real sense of loss in America when Princess Diana was killed, and there is a worldwide sense of mothering Prince William, people just want to be there for this very joyful moment when he takes a wife.”
While Britain’s nascent Republican movement may not like it, the fact is, the world’s most famous Royal Family still serves as a powerful tourist magnet, whose attraction seems far from waning any time soon.